While your body needs carbohydrates to fuel workouts and plenty of protein to rebuild muscle, the nutrition needed for achieving your fitness goals is much more complex. In fact, what you put into your body after your weightlifting or cardio session can be just as important as your pre-workout shake. If you want to take your workouts to the next level and dramatically improve your recovery time, consider adding these supplements to your diet.
While muscles need protein to grow, that protein is useless if the body isn’t also given the nutrients needed to synthesize that protein. Leucine is an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot produce it on its own, so dietary sources are absolutely necessary. Taking leucine immediately after a weightlifting session improves protein synthesis, thereby also improving muscle growth.
You probably associate taking Vitamin C with avoiding the common cold, but it’s also a powerful post-workout supplement. Whether it’s cardio or weightlifting, exercise routines put the body under metabolic stress. Because it is an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps the body to better cope with metabolic stress, improving recovery time and reducing fatigue and aches in the immediate hours or days after an intense gym session.
Regular workouts don’t just impact your muscle growth and body fat ratio. High impact exercises put a fair bit of stress on your bones, which can lead to fractures or other injuries. The best calcium supplements, especially when paired with Vitamin D to improve absorption, can help fortify the bones against stress injuries common among athletes. As a bonus, women who increase calcium are shown not only to be at a healthier body weight on average, but also demonstrate improved strength gains in the long term.
This broad umbrella of nutrients is essential for the body’s ability to properly metabolize protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Because of this, B Vitamins are not just essential for metabolizing food provide energy for the workouts themselves, but also to give the body the resources it needs to repair and grow muscles after exercising. B12 and B6 are the most commonly supplemented B vitamins, but riboflavin, niacin, and others are just as important.
Free radicals are essentially small atoms without paired electrons that can wreak havoc on the body. They’re now considered responsible for much of the physical breakdown that occurs with aging, and this negative effect also includes muscular deterioration, a disheartening fact if you’ve worked diligently towards building a strong physique. Thankfully, you aren’t powerless against free radicals, as supplementing with antioxidants can help to control their impact on the body. Vitamin E not only reduces the chance of inflammation after workouts, but as an antioxidant protects the muscles from free radical damage.
Timing Is Everything
Choosing when to take supplements is just as vital as choosing which nutrients to add to your diet. Preworkout meals are all about providing quick energy for the gym, but your post-workout nutrition offers much more than that. By picking the right supplements, you’ll not only recover faster, but also dramatically improve muscle gains and reduce the risk of certain athletic injuries.